Sound Familiar? Finesse Restores Popular Tagline

Lornamead Uses Theme From the '80s in $11 Million Ad Effort for Struggling Brand

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"Sometimes you need a little Finesse. Sometimes you need a lot."

That familiar line returns to the airwaves this fall as orphan-brand consolidator Lornamead launches an ambitious plan to revive the hair-care line with an $11 million campaign revisiting its signature 1980s theme.

Lornamead bought Finesse in April from Unilever, where for years it had gone without much ad support and suffered double-digit declines to around $60 million in sales last year.

The new campaign doesn't use the jingle, but does employ the original tagline to remind women of Finesse's heritage. "Every memory has a hairstyle associated with it," said George Russell, North American CEO of Lornamead, the privately held global marketer that bought the brand. TV and magazine ads by DeLamarter Advertising, Concord, Mass., break in October, with media planning and buying by Clark Communications, Philadelphia.

Consistency may be just what Finesse needs. It has had 16 product managers since its 1982 launch by Helene Curtis, Mr. Russell said. (Unilever bought the brand in 1996.) All those handoffs didn't help, he said, but Finesse still has 81% awareness in the U.S.

Lornamead also will target marketing toward Hispanics, who already are 79% more likely than the general population to use Finesse. Hispanic marketing will include promotions aimed toward Quincea¤era coming-out parties for 15-year-old girls and fully bilingual packaging.

Even many years after Finesse stopped using it, the jingle remains the only memorable one in hair care, Mr. Russell said.

A backer creation

The jingle and original campaign were developed by legendary adman Bill Backer of Backer & Spielvogel, New York. Mr. Backer, who also worked on the "Tastes great, less filling" campaign for Miller Lite and "I'd like to teach the world to sing" for Coke, simply tapped out the tune on a piano during a meeting, said Brad Kirk, the first brand manager on Finesse, who's now chief operating officer of hair-care marketer Marc Anthony.

Both the heritage appeal and Hispanic focus make sense for Finesse, said Ralph Blessing, another Helene Curtis and Unilever alum who's now a principal at consulting firm Arbor Strategy Group. "To change too much right now without first bringing the brand back to life would be too risky," he said, noting the failure in recent years of restages such as Unilever's Salon Selectives and Procter & Gamble Co.'s Vidal Sassoon.

Though Finesse could get swamped by nine-figure budgets for hair-care launches from those megamarketers this year, Mr. Blessing said it's still possible to succeed with Lornamead's relatively modest eight-figure budget.

In a relatively unusual strategy for an orphan-brand buyer, Lornamead wants to aggressively build Finesse rather than harvest the generous profits it still throws off, said Mike Jatania, CEO of the U.K.-based parent company. He sees Finesse, acquired along with Aqua Net, as the cornerstone of what he hopes will become a $500 million North American personal-care business, up from the current $100 million.

Revival strategy

* New $11 M effort

* Target Hispanics

* Remind women of brand's heritage
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